When you file for divorce in a Texas court, you activate a legal process. As a parent, you undoubtedly understand that this activation is going to disrupt your child’s life. By making carefully planned, well-informed decisions, you can help keep stress to a minimum, especially regarding your child custody plan.
Any number of issues may arise, however, that spark legal problems, even months or years after you have finalized your divorce. For instance, you or your ex might remarry. There could also be job changes or relocations that might cause obstacles in relation to a signed child custody agreement, prompting a need to request modification of an existing, court-approved agreement.
What does it mean to modify a child custody agreement?
When you and your ex sign a child custody agreement, it becomes enforceable by law. This is why it’s so important to thoroughly review a proposed plan to make sure you clearly understand what will be expected of you and your ex as you move on in life after divorce.
Once a judge issues a court order, you and your co-parent must fully adhere to the terms, even if you both agree that a change is needed. Unless and until the court approves a change, there can be no change.
You must show legitimate cause to request modification
A Texas family court judge has your child’s best interests in mind when he or she rules on custody issues. If you request a modification, which is a change in an existing plan, you must convince the court that you have a good reason for doing so and that this reason would be in your children’s best interests. The following list includes examples of reasons for requesting modification that the court might consider legitimate:
- You have evidence that your ex is placing your child in harm’s way.
- You have lost your job or suffered a substantial reduction in income.
- Your ex has been incarcerated.
- Your child’s financial needs have changed.
- You want to relocate and take your child with you.
Filing a petition to modify a child custody order doesn’t guarantee that the judge will grant your request. In some cases, he or she might order an investigation, such as if you accuse your ex of having a substance abuse problem that is placing your child at risk.
If your ex disregards a court order
If your co-parent disregards the terms of agreement in a child custody order, it can make life stressful for everyone involved, especially your son or daughter. The safety and well-being of your child is the court’s top priority in all custody matters. You should never hesitate to reach out for support. The court can hold a parent in contempt as a means of enforcement.